Phil and I were married young. I had just finished getting my Master's and he had just completed his Bachelor's at Franciscan University. It was May 2001 and we were 23 and 21 and ready to do this thing called married life. Only there was a problem. We didn't have anywhere to live. Phil was going to be starting his Master's program in the fall at Providence College in Rhode Island, and I would be job hunting while running my parents ice cream shop on Cape Cod. My parents graciously allowed us to live with them for the summer months, as renting a house on Cape Cod in the summer would have been ridiculously expensive.
We lived with them for a few months, and then (thanks to my brother-in-law's connections) found a job for me at a CPA firm in Providence, and a small third floor apartment in a city nearby.
|All the way at the tippy top|
That little apartment served us well until John-Paul was born, but then lugging a baby seat and bag and groceries up three flights of stairs became tres difficile. Phil was about to finish his Master's and I had left my job to stay home with JP so we were able to move elsewhere but with no money to do so. We spent the summer on the Cape and lived in an apartment above the ice cream shop where we worked and ate ice cream all summer. I remember making waffle cones at night while JP slept upstairs. We had no idea where we would live in the fall once Phil started teaching.
|We lived upstairs and worked downstairs at Maggie's (now Katie's)|
My mom had the idea that we should become house-sitters in the cute beach town nearby where everyone left their summer homes vacant during the school year. I put a little ad in the local paper and voila!, a nice lady contacted us and said we could stay at her house for free from September-May in return for taking in the mail and keeping up with the landscaping. What luck! We lived in that beach side cottage for Phil's first year of teaching and then had to move out for the summer.
|We lived on the road that led out to this island, so gorgeous|
At this point, my parents had opened up another ice cream shop in the little village where we were house-sitting, and Phil was to run it with my younger sister on his summer break from school. We were able to rent a home in a town nearby for the summer and lived there with my sister while I was very pregnant with Andrew. Once the summer ended, we moved back into the home we house-sat.
|My biggest memory of this house is that JP got physical therapy weekly because he didn't want to walk!|
Andrew was born, and although a free house was great to have, we knew we needed to plant some roots. All of this moving around so often was hard and only going to get more difficult as we increased the number of kids we had. Lucky for us, my parents have always dabbled in real estate, as my dad was a builder and property was their investment for retirement. They found a two-family house in a nice town and bought it, renting out the top apartment to us (we had two floors, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and about 2000 square feet of living space - it felt huge!) and the bottom apartment to the elderly woman who was currently living there. Thank goodness she was hard of hearing, as we had many babies in a short time in this house!
At some point, my brother, who was working in New Hampshire, decided to move back to the area with his family and wanted to rent the bottom apartment until they built a house to move into. It was agreed that my parents would turn the two-family house into two condominiums, and sell one to my brother and the other to us, so that they didn't have to be landlords anymore and we would actually own something! We looked around at other houses in our price range and couldn't find anything remotely close to what we had, so we bought our condo when I was 31 and we only had four kids. This is the same house we live in now!
We've seen a number of tenants come and go in the downstairs apartment, our favorite ones being Sarah and Katie. We have tried to put our home on the market twice to buy a single family home, but both times were met with no success because it's an unusual situation to only sell half of a house. My brother, who's since moved out, wants to hold onto his condo as an investment property. Eventually we gave in, seeing that we weren't moving anywhere, and did a remodel by adding a bedroom, and renovating the kitchen and dining room. Now the space fits our growing (full-grown?) family.
Just recently, my parents sold their house and began renovating the downstairs condo so that they could move in. It seems funny how God's timing works full circle. While I was frustrated over not being able to sell and "upgrade" to a single family home, God's plans of having my parents move in downstairs is way better than what I wanted. It was in the works the whole time! Now our kids can see their grandparents all the time, and hopefully we can all help each other out with chores and errands and just enjoy three generations under one roof. Looking back on our house adventures, I can see how our love for each other and trust in God has paid off. I'm glad I didn't believe the world's lies that we needed the perfect house/cars/big salary/finished degrees before we started our family. I am a big believer in hard work and making things happen but at some point you've just got to just do your best and let God do the rest!